Knole: A Private View into One of Britain’s Great Houses

The Sackvilles have inhabited Knole, one of Britain’s greatest houses, for more than 400

In his talk with the Royal Oak Foundation members, Robert Sackville-West, the 13th generation of the family to live at Knole, will take members on a personal tour – its legendary 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances, and seven courtyards.


Thomas Sackville, 1st earl of Dorset, also known as Baron Buckhurst of Buckhurst, was an English statesman and dramatist. Sackville settled in London in 1553; in 1558 he became a barrister and entered Parliament. He conveyed the death sentence to Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586. His house in Kent, Knole, is one of the great buildings of the age.

Lord Sackville will show the spirit of Knole, from the state rooms—with the finest collection of 17thc. Royal Stuart furniture in the world and outstanding tapestries—to the private apartments filled with portraits by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Sir Peter Lely, and Reynolds. He will include a trip behind-the-scenes into the labyrinth of cellars and show attics filled with family mementos.

He will describe his ancestors who inhabited his family home— from the grave Elizabethan statesman, the good-for-nothing gadabout at the seedy court of James I, the dashing cavalier, the Restoration rake, to the 3rd Duke of the ancien régime—who inhabited his family home and were described by Vita Sackville-West (born at Knole) as “a race too prodigal, too amorous, too weak, too indolent, and too melancholy.”

Knole and the Sackvilles

According to the National Trust, U.K., what we see today is a remarkably preserved and complete early Jacobean remodeling of a medieval archiepiscopal palace. From an even older manor house, it was built and extended by the Archbishops of Canterbury after 1456.

It became a royal possession during the Tudor dynasty when Henry VIII hunted here and found the place a useful residence for his daughter – later to become Mary I – during his divorce from her mother, Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I is also said to have visited.

From 1603, Thomas Sackville made it the aristocratic treasure house for the Sackville family, who were prominent and influential in court circles. Knole’s showrooms were designed to impress visitors and to display the Sackville family’s wealth and status.

Over more than 400 years, his descendants rebuilt and then furnished Knole.

Lord Sackville will talk about the way his family has shaped and furnished the house, and describe how Knole itself has shaped the Sackvilles, influencing their lives and their relationships up to the present day.

You can join his chat IN-PERSON

Friday, October 7 | 6:00 p.m. (ET)

The General Society Library

20 W. 44th Street, NYC (Bet. 5th and 6th)

Reception and book signing following

$35 members; $40 non-members and guests.

Sign up here & use TUDOR22 for a special discount.


From Saturday, October 8th to Wednesday, October 19th

Rent the recorded lecture to watch at your leisure

$20 members; $25 non-members and guests

Sign up here & use TUDOR22 for a special discount.

The stunning images of the interiors and architectural and decorative features taken by Ashley Hicks for Knole: A Private View of One of Britain’s Great Houses, published by Rizzoli 2022.

Set of pastels at Knole by female Venetian Rococo painter Rosalba Carriera. Charles Sackville, 2nd Duke of Dorset at bottom right; his Italian mistress Lucia Panichi, at bottom left ©Photo by Ashley Hicks. From Knole: A Private View of One of Britain’s Great Houses, Rizzoli, 2022.

Robert Sackville-West, 7th Baron Sackville

Robert Sackville-West, 7th Baron Sackville, studied history at Oxford University and went on to work in publishing. He now chairs Knole Estates, the property and investment company that, in parallel with the National Trust, runs the Sackville family’s interests at Knole.

Special thanks to National Trust and Royal Oak Foundation.

One response to “Knole: A Private View into One of Britain’s Great Houses”

  1. Kenneth J Benton Avatar
    Kenneth J Benton

    Where is Kanye’s room?

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